'The Descendants' Review By Corey W.

The Descendants beautifully sets-up captivating characters the audience can connect with through an emotional time in their lives. The characters will stay with you in your heart long after the film ends and for that... it deserves a round of applause.
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
The race for the Oscars has finally begun and with 2011 being the difficult year for cinema that it is its almost hard to tell which films will be nominated for Best Picture. In honest opinion, I can't count ten films that deserve the nomination; I can hardly even count five. The only three films that I would like to see against each other in the race are 50/50, Moneyball, and now The Descendants. While I would like to see Warrior in the running, mostly because I see it as a better quality film than 2010's The Fighter was, I've come to a conclusion that that probably will not happen. With all this being said, Oscar-season has finally arrived and there are still plenty of films to be released that look award worthy. War Horse, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Young Adult, The Adventures of Tintin, and even Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close yet to hit the big-screen, but The Descendants is, and will probably remain, as the best picture of 2011...for many reasons.

1) George Clooney's performance is completely flawless. If you remember his Oscar-nominated performance from 2009's Up in the Air, Clooney only gives a performance that is more powerful and worthy of the win. He may not have won that Oscar, but if he is (and he will be) nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role again this year, he might just be she table to sit another Academy-Award on the shelf with the one he won from 2006. Clooney plays Matt King in The Descendants, or what he calls "The Back-Up Parent". King has a huge decision to make on whether or not to sell land that his family had owned for generations. With pressure riding on his back already, his wife is in a coma and through this tragedy King must cope and deal with his two daughters. Clooney plays the role well, and with the witty dialogue and incredible development on the King, it was easy to really love and feel the character deeply by the time the film had ended.

2) Shailene Woodley presents a performance even better than Clooney's; for that, give her an Oscar now. She really makes a character out of Alex, a troubled-teen holding back a secret from her father that might just turn the tables on everything holding the family together. Woodley has some of the best moments in the entire film and took my breath away in every one of them. One of the best aspects of the film is the conversations held between Alex and her father, and with Clooney and Woodley both giving two of the best performances of the year, The Descendants holds up quite nicely and will certainly face Oscar-attention. Thanks to Woodley and her power to bring the character to life, you feel the character's pain, love, and just about every emotion you can think of.

3) The film masterly blends humor with hard-hitting drama. Like 50/50, another favorite of mine from this year, The Descendants is able to pull the audience in through characters facing serious difficulties, but still manage to make people laugh through everything going on around them, The characters are going through a rough-time, times where viewers may be able to connect with the characters, but with all the bad comes realistic humor that really make The Descendants the excellent piece of cinema that it is. The three men who worked on the screenplay deserve recognition for their original screenplay here. I believe a nomination for Most Original Screenplay would be perfect recognition just for their astounding work with crafting excellent characters and setting-up incredible scenes between a struggling father and daughter. In times of heartbreak, deceit, and life values, the film lights upon tough topics without insulting the audience through hysterical humor. Its a film anyone can enjoy and for that, it deserves an Oscar.

4) The film Sideways was a big winner, was it not? The Descendants, also directed by Alexander Payne, is twice the film Sideways was. The films grasps more meaning and captivates more emotion throughout beautiful characters. Not to mention the beautiful shots of the Hawaiian Islands, which are all breath-taking and beyond beautiful. The Descendants has a captivating look to it that bring out the beauty the film already contains through its storyline and characters. Payne should be familiar with making award-worthy flicks; I really hope we see him again in February for his stunning and glorious work done here.

CHARACTERS: For many other reasons does the film deserve its title as the best film of 2011. With the month of December releasing many great-looking movies I can't one-hundred percent say that this will be the best film of the year by the year's end, but not once this year have I met better on-screen characters. These characters are beautiful on both the inside and out and they truly make The Descendants the excellent film that it is. Not once did I have to glance at my watch, in fact, I wanted the film to continue. I wanted to watch these characters and see what happens with the rest of their lives. If a film can really make you care for characters in that sort of way, its got to be worth something.

It is without a doubt the best family-drama in years, possibly of all-time. The Descendants beautifully sets-up captivating characters the audience can connect with through an emotional time in their lives. The characters will stay with you in your heart long after the film ends and for that... it deserves a round of applause. Give it an Oscar now! The Descendants is this year's winner. I can already tell.

Thanks for the read!

-Written by Corey Wood

Do you like this review?

Comments (38)

  1. Nicholaus XX

    @corey -- Great review, man.

    3 years agoby @XxNickTheFilmCriticXxFlag

  2. Corey W.

    @slysnide Oh, nope not yet. I'll let you know if I do, but I am seeing the film again sometime this week :P

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  3. slysnide

    @corey: You just made a point a couple times that it was really good for that reason. So I figured I'd see if you'd yet forgotten it. Usually they do.

    3 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  4. Corey W.

    @slysnide haha no. No I have not. Why would I forget them? :P

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  5. slysnide

    So @corey, have you forgotten the characters yet? Think hard, it's been a week.

    3 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  6. slysnide

    @moviegeek: "HP" & "Moneyball" are the only ones in those lists I've seen. I think "The Artist" is gonna win. Amazing appraisal already across the board. (4 A's a 'T' and a 'B'--so close to six)

    3 years agoby @slysnideFlag

  7. moviegeek

    @corey I really don't see 50/50 getting voter attention. Though I agree that the help is the iffiest on the list. And while HP is unlikely because of the age range, I can't see them in their right mind snubbing this. Especially in a year so weak. I do hope they recognize Alan Rickman though.

    3 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  8. Corey W.

    @moviegeek I agree with your list, though, I'd swap out either HP or The Help for 50/50.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  9. ChiRep_1

    First the Ides of March and now the Descendants? Clooney's having one helluva year. Solid review I'll have to check this out sometime.

    3 years agoby @ChiRep-1Flag

  10. Georgia DiPirro

    @corey I agree with @ghostman BRAVO your review is Oscar winning!

    3 years agoby @Georgia-DiPirroFlag

  11. Jay.A.Ottley

    @corey I intend to, I've only heard amazing things about this flick.

    @mattbierwagen & @corey - While your discussing the debate of j.Edgar i reckon its only going to go up for Best Actor for Leo, i can't see it getting anything else other than that nomination

    3 years agoby @jayaottleyFlag

  12. Jay.A.Ottley

    @moviegeek Nice list dude.... I think though The Help & TTSS will go up for Best Adaptation film

    3 years agoby @jayaottleyFlag

  13. moviegeek

    @corey My best pic nominee list prediction as of now:

    1. The Artist
    2. The Descendants
    3. Tree of Life
    4. War Horse
    5. Moneyball
    6. The Help
    7. Girl with Dragon Tattoo
    8. Harry Potter

    My up in the air guesses (in order of likeliness):

    -Extremely Loud/Incredibly Close
    -The Adventures of TinTin (fingers crossed)
    -Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
    -The Ides of March
    -Young Adult
    -Midnight in Paris
    -The Iron Lady
    -Martha Marcy May Marlene
    -We Bought a Zoo
    -A Dangerous Method

    3 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  14. Corey W.

    @ghostman *proudly accepts award and thanks the crowd*

    haha, thanks man!

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  15. Corey W.

    @mattbierwagen Anything is a wild-card with 201, if you ask me. We'll find out sooon enough.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  16. Ghostman

    @corey if you're asking if your review is Oscar worthy, it sure as hell is! Great review friend :)

    3 years agoby @ghostmanFlag

  17. Worth5Bucks

    @corey i know, but i feel that it got a nomination just from the preview.

    3 years agoby @mattbierwagenFlag

  18. Corey W.

    @mattbierwagen Not so sure about J. Edgar. It isn't getting the best of reviews. Maybe a nod for Leo, but I don't think Best Pic.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  19. Corey W.

    @moviegeek@ejk1 I think 10 is a bit too much. I never though Winter's Bone deserved it last year. The only good thing about it was Lawrence. I'm iffy about 50/50. As much as I'd love for it to be nominated, I have a feeling it won't be.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  20. Worth5Bucks

    @corey ahh thats a good point. My way of viewing the academy is that films have a way of buying there way into the academy nominations before they are even released to theaters, despite weather or not they turn out well received. I'm fairly confident that Tree of Life, J. Edgar, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Warhorse, 50/50, and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo will all receive nominations. And then the best one will likely be the winner.

    3 years agoby @mattbierwagenFlag

  21. ejk1

    @corey Jack & Jill? What is that, a sign of the apocalypse?

    To answer your question, I have no idea. It's my belief that they went to the ten films specifically to quell fans that were upset that TDK was not nominated in 2008, but in the two years that followed we have seen a few undeserving films nominated (Up is a great film, but never should have been nominated as a Best Picture). So they went to this flex schedule so they could hold off until they survey the landscape and see what is truly deserving. If I had to guess, Drive, 50/50, The Descendants, and War Horse are locks. Dragon Tattoo may not get there, especially if it's considered inferior to the Swedish version. Moneyball may be in, but it might get pushed out by the plethora of films to come, including Tin Tin, The Artist, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. It's going to get interesting as these films jockey for position. But if I had to guess, 6-8 films will be nominated. What they are I have no idea, but the way the Academy is going about its business, it definitely seems to me that they do not want ten nominees.

    3 years agoby @ejk1Flag

  22. moviegeek

    @corey between 5 and 10. There's no set number. Each movie has to get a certain percentage of the first place votes to get a nomination.

    Excellent review. I think it's too presumptuous to call this a winner already, especially with lots more movies to come. I think this is an actors win, not a
    Best pic win.

    3 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  23. Corey W.

    @ejk1 True. That's a good point. Anything can happen over the next few months. Hell, Jack and Jill can win Best Picture :P

    I see it being nominated though, that'll make me happy. Do you know if its 5 or 10 films being nominated this year yet? That'll help narrow down what films may be nominated or not.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  24. ejk1

    @corey I was mistaken, so please allow me to clarify. One left of films left, true, but then two more months for the voters to be swayed into changing their minds numerous times over.

    3 years agoby @ejk1Flag

  25. Corey W.

    @mattbierwagen Eh, this year hasn't been so strong so I predict it being nominated. Glad I could interest you in the film though!

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  26. Corey W.

    @ejk1 Well, only one more month of film left. I did say that I wasn't sure if I'll feel the same way at the end of December. The only films this month I can see changing my mind is War Horse. I've already seen Tintin and I've only heard decent things on Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.

    As for Dragon Tattoo, that film has a strong case of winning over this film...since Fincher is my favorite director.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  27. Worth5Bucks

    @corey i have to say, i had no interest with this movie until this review. great job, i do not however believe that moneyball will really get any recognition from the academy.

    3 years agoby @mattbierwagenFlag

  28. ejk1

    @corey Great review, but I think it's too early to call this race over. Like you said, a few films have yet to be released, so there is no telling of the quality held within them. As for your example of Sideways, that film only took home the award for Best Adapted Screenplay. I like your enthusiasm for The Descendants, but much can happen over the next two months.

    3 years agoby @ejk1Flag

  29. thedude-abides

    @corey Haha. We'll see. It's gotten perfect reviews across the board so far.

    3 years agoby @thedude-abidesFlag

  30. Corey W.

    @thedude-abides I see. I see. Well, enjoy it man! I think this one is right up your alley. Hope to see a 4-star rating out of you! :P

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag